Back in 2007, Merle Haggard recorded an album with his old pals Willie Nelson and Ray Price called, accurately, The Last of The Breed. Well, Willie is the only one left, apart from maybe Kristofferson, for whom that title now seems appropriate.
This lovely record is as comfortable as your battered old leather jacket. It’s a no-gimmicks, old school country collection, a world away from the barbecues and pick-up trucks-fixated dreck that Nashville continues to churn out. Trigger twangs, the mighty Mickey Raphael’s harmonica soothes, and Willie’s unique phrasing is a joy, as always. The songs are just right, whether he’s getting the digs in at Trump on ‘Delete And Fast Forward’, paying a heartfelt tribute to Haggard on ‘He Won’t Ever Be Gone’, or mourning the passing of love on the wonderfully titled ‘Your Memory Has A Mind Of Its Own’.
He both mocks his age, on the internet death hoax ridiculing ‘Still Not Dead’, and celebrates it on ‘It Gets Easier’, a song extolling the virtues of not giving a monkey’s about what anyone else thinks, an attitude which pretty much sums up Willie’s career, and weed-loving lifestyle.
His prolificacy in recent years would have had Prince scratching his head. And this album, arriving just in time for his 84th birthday isn’t the end of things either; the next one is apparently already in the bag. Which is good news. God’s Problem Child is great.
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